Day 3 – Friday, 31st July 2015

The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School 2015 has begun!   Each day we will list the events for that particular day on the site.  You can also view the full schedule of events on our brochure by clicking the brochure icon on the right of this page or by navigating to to “Festival Programme 2015″ in the menu bar at the top of the page.  We hope you can join us here in Shandon, on Cork’s northside for what promises to be an exciting and interesting four days of film, lectures, music and performance.


Friday’s programme

Fr. Peter McVerry receives Spirit of Mother Jones Award 2015


Fr. McVerry receives the award from Jim Nolan and Ailbhe O'Mahony of the Cork Mother Jones Committee

Fr. McVerry receives the award from Jim Nolan and Ailbhe O’Mahony of the Cork Mother Jones Committee

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is delighted to announce that Fr Peter McVerry is the recipient of the 2015 Spirit of Mother Jones Award.

Fr Peter McVerry  was presented with the award earlier today (Thursday)  following his thought-provoking address on the topic …..”Homelessness – the failure of social policy”.

Fr Peter McVerry has spent virtually all his adult life providing for the homeless and providing drug treatment and drug prevention services to thousands of people who fall through the cracks in society. He opened his first hostel as far back as 1979 and founded the Peter McVerry Trust in 1983 which plays a huge role today in providing services for many homeless people.

According to Jim Nolan of the Cork Mother Jones Committee

“Fr Peter McVerry was the unanimous choice of the entire Cork Mother Jones Committee to receive the Spirit of Mother Jones Award in 2015. He receives it in recognition of his unstinting efforts to provide a voice for those without a voice or power in society and for the way he openly challenges the political establishment to find a permanent political solution to this growing problem”

“He receives it due to his fearlessness in pursuit of a political solution and for how he does not accept the cosy consensus which tries to keep the homeless issue out of sight…for his ability to raise the inconvenient truth that Irish society can end this problem by making a political decision to do so upsets a lot of people in high places……….and for his refusal to shut up and go away.”

“The Peter McVerry Trust under the inspiration and dedication of Fr Peter has worked in the very front lines of finding solutions for homelessness for over three decades and we believe that he is a very worthy recipient of the Spirit of Mother Jones Award 2015. We are satisfied that Mother Jones if she was alive today would have been very proud of Fr Peter for his ability to highlight the social injustice of homelessness and would support his efforts to put forward solutions. It is a great honour for our committee that he has agreed to accept the award for 2015 as a small token of our appreciation for his efforts.”

Concluded Mr Nolan.

Some estimates put the number of homeless in Ireland at around 5000 at present and Fr McVerry has warned of a tsunami of homelessness in Ireland if political action is not taken quickly.

Previous recipients of the Spirit of Mother Jones award were Margaret Aspinall of the Hillsborough Family Support Group in 2013 and Gareth Peirce, Solicitor in 2014.


Day 2 – Thursday, 30th July 2015

The Spirit of Mother Jones Festival and Summer School 2015 has begun!   Each day we will list the events for that particular day on the site.  You can also view the full schedule of events on our brochure by clicking the brochure icon on the right of this page or by navigating to to “Festival Programme 2015″ in the menu bar at the top of the page.  We hope you can join us here in Shandon, on Cork’s northside for what promises to be an exciting and interesting four days of film, lectures, music and performance.


Thursday’s programme

A not to be missed performance – Kaiulani Lee becomes Mother Jones



Kaiulani Lee visited Cork for the inaugural Mother Jones Festival. She promised to return to perform her one woman play Can’t Scare Me…The Story of Mother Jones. Ms Lee has confirmed for the 2015 festival and will perform at the Firkin Crane on Friday 31st July. 

Tickets cost €15 each and are available by phoning 086-1651356.  Tickets will also be available on shortly. For more information on Kaiulani visit her website at

Kaiulani Lee has over 35 years’ experience in theatre, film and television. She has guest starred on numerous television series from “The Waltons” to “Law & Order” and has also worked in films such as “The World According to Garp”. She has written and performed A Sense Of Wonder, based on the story of Rachel Carson. Carson who published the remarkable book Silent Spring in 1962, exposed and documented the use and effects of toxic chemicals as contained in pesticides, fungicides and herbicides on wildlife and the environment. Although savagely attacked by the chemical industry at the time, the environmental truths about the balance in nature she identified remain valid.  To witness Kaiulani Lee perform in “A Sense of Wonder” is to get a true sense and vision of Ms. Carson’s very soul. Her sensitive and intimate portrayal of Carson really is a wonder. Her second play Can’t Scare Me…The Story of Mother Jones opened at the Atlas Theatre in Washington in 2011. The play written and performed by Ms Lee is drawn from Mother Jones’s own autobiography, her letters, speeches, interviews and transcripts. The Washington Post described it as follows: “Lee, a skilled performer, brings both gentleness and steel to her Mother Jones….the play engages our emotions and intellect, a tribute to actress and writer Lee and her subject….. a tart and handsomely wrought solo show”. In performing at Shandon, Ms Lee will bring the passionate and tough rebel spirit of Mother Jones back to the very streets of her childhood in Rebel Cork.

Kaiulani Lee with Lord Mayor John Buttimer at Cork City Hall in 2012

Kaiulani Lee with Lord Mayor John Buttimer at Cork City Hall in 2012

Kaiulani Lee has been full-time adjunct professor at George Mason University from 1997 to the present and taught master classes at universities across the country. In May 2014 Kaiulani spent an exhilarating two weeks travelling around America with the United Mine Workers who were commemorating the centennial of the mining wars. She performed for thousands of miners whose mining forebears worshipped Mother Jones. During Oct/Nov 2014,Kaiulani spent some time in Bangladesh and Cambodia, where she performed, held workshops, listened and learned in the communities and workplaces in both countries. She hopes to share what she has learned and experienced through Can’t Scare Me and wishes people to realise that the very issues of exploitation which caused Mother Jones to organise the March of the Mill Children in 1903 remain very relevant today.

Kaiulani Lee

Kaiulani Lee

Ms Lee will perform Can’t Scare Me…..The Story of Mother Jones at the Firkin Crane on Friday 31st July at 8.30. Tickets will be available from mid-June. Visit

Festival Time approaches!

2015 Festival Progamme - click image to view full size or download

2015 Festival Progamme – click on link in text or via the main menu.

The Cork Mother Jones Committee is proud to introduce the 2015 Spirit of Mother Jones festival and summer school which begins on Wednesday 29th July and concludes on Saturday night, 1st August.


We feel very honoured to celebrate the memory of Mary Harris, known as Mother Jones, in the streets of her birthplace and we know that the speakers, musicians, poets, film makers, artists, singers, actors and the visitors will provide a festival and summer school that is interesting, relevant and challenging. The wonderful community of Shandon in Cork City will again provide a historic and colourful backdrop for the events. We also know that many others across the USA, the UK, Greece and elsewhere will be attending in spirit.


The full programme of almost 30 events over 4 days is available to download by clicking on this link: Spirit of Mother Jones programme 2015

The topics and subjects are varied and diverse, yet we are sure Mother Jones would have approved of the debates they will encourage among those attending. We will remember forgotten Cork heroes such as John Dowling and Lily Boole, and others such as Tony Benn, Joe Hill and Rachel Carson. We will hear of injustices perpetrated on the miners at Orgreave or on the Birmingham Six. We will wonder at the bravery of Irish Citizen Army and the labour struggles of the early 20th Century. We will hear of homelessness in our Republic in 2015 and the possible loss of our most precious natural resource.


We will listen to the very best of Cork and international music and song from Two Time Polka, Jimmy Crowley, Johnny Nyhan, Richard T. Cooke, William Hammond, the Cork Singers Club,  the Cork Rokk Choir and many, many more.


And we will experience Mother Jones herself when the superb Kaiulani Lee takes the stage to perform “Can’t Scare Me…the Story of Mother Jones”. 


Virtually all the events are free and open to everyone, (just be early!). For that we have to thank our sponsors, the Shandon community, all those participating and contributing on a voluntary basis and the ongoing work of the members of the Cork Mother Jones Committee to celebrate an inspirational woman. Come along!


Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living!      



Water – a Human Right


Dr. Margaret O'Keeffe

Dr. Margaret O’Keeffe

Under the subtitle “Renewing Our Faith in (Strong) Democracy – Lessons from the Water Protests!” Dr. Margaret O’Keeffe will speak on this very topical issue at the Maldron Hotel, on Friday, 31st July at 2pm.

Dr. O’Keeffe, who lectures in Community Development at the Department of Social Studies, Cork Institute of Technology (CIT), says the lecture has its genesis in her thoughts, observations and peaceful activism over the last two years or so in relation to some of the critical issues regarding water privatisation in Ireland.

Drawing on Benjamin Barber’s conceptualisation of Strong Democracy (1998), I wish to link the discussion to wider debates in relation to various interrelated democratic struggles at local, national and global levels, including but not limited to issues of growing global inequality, privatisation, climate change and the proposed Trans-Atlantic TTIP trade deal”, states Margaret.

“I argue that the water protest struggle is linked to wider emancipatory struggles which use the democratic process to challenge the hegemony of corporate power in an increasingly unequal global economy.  I suggest that the water protest movement is a microcosm of wider democratic struggles across Europe and the world”.

“Failure to recognise these interlinkages and their adverse implications for a fairer society for all means that we inadvertently fail to see what is happening to our world, and the likely degraded and diminished world, in terms of hope and opportunity, that our children, grandchildren and generations yet to be born, will face now and into the future.”, she concluded.



Mother Jones flies high at Durham Miners Gala

Daughters of Mother Jones banner at Durham Gala 2015

Daughters of Mother Jones banner at Durham Gala 2015

The annual Durham Gala, organised by the Durham Miners’ Association was held at the Racecourse on Saturday 11th July 2015. The Big Meeting took place following the huge colourful parade of banners and bands through the city from early morning.

The new Daughters of Mother Jones Banner was carried proudly for the first time in the parade led by Betty Cook and Anne Scargill. Media estimates put the overall crowd at somewhere around a hundred and fifty thousand people. It was a triumph for the organisational abilities of Durham Miners’ Association under its General Secretary Dave Hopper, who reviewed the parade from the balcony of the County Hotel on Old Elvet.
County Hotel

Group on balcony of County Hotel including Dave Hopper review parade

Dave Hopper in welcoming all to the Gala in a rousing speech commented “We have endured five years of austerity during which the richest people in Britain have doubled their wealth while the poorest have been driven to the brink of destitution.”  Other speakers included Jeremy Corbyn MP and Owen Jones, author and journalist and trade union leaders who also addressed a packed Racecourse. All the current Labour Party leadership contenders attended the Gala.
One of the many bands that participated

One of the many bands that participated

Four new banners from Sacriston, Tanfield Lea, Usworth and the Durham Miners’ Area were blessed at Durham Cathedral later in the afternoon. They were accompanied by bands of the Durham Miners’ Association, Hade Edge, Boarshurst and Ellinton Colliery.  The Bishop of Durham,the Right Reverend Paul Butler in his sermon, referred to how the Durham Gala “demonstrates an underlying passion for justice”.
The Gala was accompanied by many fringe meetings, dozens of stalls, and even a Gala Funfair for the thousands of children present. On a sunny Saturday afternoon,after it was all over, the bands and their communities with their banners marched from the field, the 131st Durham Gala was a wonderful tribute to the resilience of the local mining communities and the Durham Miners’ Association and an inspiration to all who attended from around the world. See the Durham Miners facebook page for up to date details and discover how one can support the festival to ensure its survival.
Dave Hopper General Secretary of the Durham Miners’ Association will deliver the 2015 Cork Mother Jones Lecture at the Firkin Crane on Wednesday 29th July at 7.15. He will be accompanied also by actress Kaiulani Lee. 
Dave will introduce the classic Yvette Vanson film The Battle for Orgreave at the Maldron Hotel at 11am on Thursday 30th July. Dave was present on the 18th June 1984 and will discuss the ongoing fight for justice for the miners and the demands for a full investigation into the events of that day.
Chairman of the Durham Miners Association Alan Cummings will also attend the festival.